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Sand FAQ

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 12:59 am
by Chrisbarnett
This thread is intended to help answer all the questions new sand users have.

Won’t sand trap debris?
No. Sand is denser than the debris, so poop and other things just sit on top of it waiting to be picked up by the filter.

But won’t my turtle eat the sand?
It’s possible. But if they ingest the sand the grains of it are so small that they pass through a turtle without causing any harm.

Where do I buy sand?
The beach is not a way to get your sand. You should buy your sand from any pet store (Ie; Petsmart, Petco, Etc.) or from a hardware store(Ie; Home Depot, Lowes, OSH).

What type of sand do I buy?
Avoid any sand made for saltwater or “reef tanks” these sands often have live cultures, containing many ingredients and possible additives that won’t help or may even hurt your freshwater tank or turtle. Also, if possible, I would avoid calcium sand for reptiles as well. I’m unsure of any ill effects from this sand, but it can affect the general hardness of your water, which then increases the carbonate hardness of your water. There are a few choices in what type. You can buy aquarium sand, which is great, and what I have in my tank. It is finer grain and usually feels “Soft.” It is usually a natural tan color, although it does come on other colors such as white, and black. The downside of aquarium sand is the price. For 20-30lbs of it, it’s going to cost anywhere from $30 on up. Aquarium sand is available at pet stores. You can also buy Quickrete playsand or just quickrete sand, this sand is usually a medium grain, and natural color. It usually requires more washing, but the end result can look very nice. The big upside of Quickrete sand, is that it is cheap. Usually less than $10, for a 50 lb bag of it.

Do I need to rinse the sand before putting it in the tank?
Yes. You need to rinse the sand extremely well. I use a 5 gallon bucket, and rinse the sand under high pressure from a garden hose sprayer for about 15 minutes, dumping off dirty water as needed. Putting the sand in a pillow case and rinsing from the inside of the pillow case works well also.

Why is my water so cloudy?
Your sand needs to settle now. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes, to a couple days depending on how well you washed it.

Can I turn on my filter while my sand is settling?
Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There are very fine particles of sand floating around when it is settling, and turning on your filter is only going to suck up those pieces. This could cause damage to your filter.

But won’t my filter suck up the sand?
No, not if you have the intake at the right distance. I recommend putting the intake 3-4” away from the top of the sand so that if your turtle kicks up the sand, it settles before getting pulled into the filter.

How do I use my siphon or Python now? Won’t it suck up the sand?
No, Not if you keep it a couple inches away from the sand.

How do I clean the sand once it’s in the tank?
I found the the Zoo med sand sifter works great for cleaning sand, much better than either spot cleaning with a turkey baster, net, or using a siphon to pick up debris. Or for a more thorough cleaning, you can stir up the sand with something, and then run the siphon picking up debris and let your filter do the rest.
Here's a link to the Zoo Med sand sifter, ... atid=13992

Can I put my turtle in the tank while the sand is settling?
Yes, it will have no effect on the turtle.

What about a Prefilter on the intake?
You can use those if you like, it's added insurance that sand wont get sucked up into your filter. Remember to take it off and clean it off often otherwise it being dirty will restrict your filters flow. You can get them on the coarse(about 10-20PPI) or fine side(30-40PPI), I would recommend coarse, because it will have less of an impact on the suction power and won't get clogged as fast. Prefilters are readily available for most filters, or you can just buy ones made for the Aquaclear power filters, and make your own.

How much sand will I need?
Go to the very bottom of the page, and type in your details.

Heres a step by step pictorial of washing and adding
The sand I bought, 5.68 at OSH.
What you'll need; 5 gal bucket, and hose.
Cut a small hole in the bag:
Pour the sand in the bucket, I only did a small amount because thats how much I wanted to add:
Initial fill up:
Let the hose run, go text some friends, work on something else...
After 5 min
After 10ish minutes, looks a lot clearer doesn't it? I deem it ready to go in the tank.
Dump off excess water slowly until you get this
Get something to put the sand in the tank with, I prefer a spatula.
NOTE: Turn off your filter before proceeding!
Grab a spatula full of sand...
and dump it in!
Dumping in more sand..
**I spilled some sand at this point, so I grabbed the vaccum and sucked it up before I ground it in the carpet with my foot. :)
And just a bit of cloudiness this time...
Also, warning if you wash your sand in cold water, do not put it straight into the tank. the sand being so cold can cause a water Temp. drop that can shock your turtle, possibly causing a RI or worse. If you wash your sand in extremely hot water, a temp increase will happen. Not sure if this would be as much of a problem as a cold shock though. So if you washed with super cold or very warm water, let your sand cool to room temp. before putting it into the tank.

There are other colors of sand available besides white, tan and black!
Walmart has Green, blue, and purple.
Heres what different colors look like!
(My tank)
(Picture courtesy of Daniel3507)
(Above picture courtesy of Zoologist.)
And how it looks in the tank:
(Pictures courtesy of chrisinva)

Anyone else have any other questions to add?? Or suggestions to answer the above questions better? Post here and I’ll add them so we can get a good resource thread going!! :)

[admin note] This topic has been stickied. It's a worthwhile read for those interested in a sand substrate.[/b]

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 12:23 pm
by Daniel3507
looks like you got it pretty well taken care of

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 12:33 pm
by xfueledbykatie
uh ohhh i used calcium sand :/

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 1:31 pm
by Daniel3507
i did too but im not worried about it at all. i tested my water before and after and it hasnt changed it any.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:01 pm
by zoologist
Here is what my old 30g tank looks like right after i put sand in. it settled after about 4 hours. i put my filter on after three. i used playsand and rinsed it well before hand (it was dyed orange, hence the very orange-y color. however, thats all washed away now)






PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:46 pm
by mat012
Very nice - can this be a sticky? Also it might mention the use of a prefilter on the intake tube. This is optional but does help further protect your filter from sand uptake.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:34 pm
by Daniel3507
nice pictures. i dont think people understand how cloudy the water actually gets. i know i was surprised when i added sand.

if your going to use a pre filter you need to be sure and clean it out very often or it will clog up and damage your filter

PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:51 pm
by Chrisbarnett
Thanks for posting the pictures Jess!

I'll add a part about pre filters. totally forgot about those.

PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 11:16 pm
by AllisonChains
I used the play sand from Wal-Mart. It was a 25lb. bag for $3.00 so I couldn't pass it up.

I wonder if maybe Wal-Mart 'brand' is different than a Lowe's or Home Depot? I couldn't believe how quickly the sand washed clean before putting it in the tank. I had maybe what I would call a slight haze for 30 minutes or so after filling the tank up.

I certainly was happy, though!

...also glad this is here!

PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 11:19 pm
by untsmurf
That's great!! Did you wash it before hand or just toss it in? Does your sand have any small gravel in it? Or is it really fine?

PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 11:41 pm
by AllisonChains
I washed it (a lot) before putting it in the tank. She has a 30 gallon rubbermaid for outside and I just dumped all the sand in and washed it in that.

I would rinse 2 or 3 times and then let it soak for about 15 minutes while cleaning out the tank inside the house. I did that routine maybe 7 or 8 times on smoke breaks.

The sand is really fine, feels soft. It did have some small gravel in it, and some larger pieces, but my daughter and I were completely obsessive about getting it out.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:56 pm
by untsmurf
I figured that we can add our sandy tanks here for all to see... Here's mine within minutes of filling it up:


PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 6:01 pm
by AllisonChains

I love your basking area, too.

I had made the comment in the other thread that I wanted you to lie to me if your sand made a liar out of ME!

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 6:03 pm
by untsmurf
:lol: No worries, it was super easy and very clean!

PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 6:31 pm
by Chrisbarnett
Very nice job untsmurf!

Heres a picture of sand in my 55 gal,

and here is sand in squirts old 30 gal tank:
while settling,
and settled,